Pretoria - Eight state-owned companies signed the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) on Thursday, pledging their commitment to a green world economy.
Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said in Pretoria the companies under his portfolio would align their operations with the provisions of the UNGC without curtailing financial viability.
Senior officials from Eskom, SA Airways, Transnet, SA Express, arms manufacturer Denel, diamond miner Alexkor, telecommunications company Broadband Infraco, and the SA Forestry Company signed the pact.
Gigaba said the symbolic signing was evidence of government’s dedication to combating problems caused by climate change.
“Our objective is to make a fair contribution to the global efforts that seek to stabilise greenhouse gas while being cognisant of the outcomes.”
Gigaba said the public enterprises department would guide the companies on achieving a greener economy.
“It is our intention, through these state-owned companies, to build responsible global champions that understand their responsibility towards the sustainability of the world we occupy.”
The department launched a climate change policy framework on Wednesday, which would align the companies’ operations to the UNGC.
Gigaba said the framework was meant to get the companies to reduce their carbon emissions. South Africa’s industrial economy was energy-intensive and coal-dependent, and the country was ranked as one of the 30 largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world.
“The bulk of the greenhouse gas emissions in South Africa come from the energy sector, which contributed 78 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gases in 1994,” Gigaba said.
“As a result we have now adopted a pro-active approach so as to ensure that South Africa plays a leading role in combating the global challenges associated with climate change.”
The UNGC is a voluntary corporate citizen initiative, involving, among others, thousands of businesses from every continent.
Businesses bound by the UNGC file annual progress reports to the global institute. - Sapa